Wondering whether krill oil or fish oil is better for you? While many people take a fish oil supplement to maintain healthy levels of omega-3s—beneficial fatty acids—krill oil is becoming a popular alternative due to its increased bioavailability and its potential for enhanced heart health benefits.
So, what are the similarities and differences between these two helpful supplements? And which one is best for your body? Read on for an in-depth examination of krill oil and fish oil so you can determine which is better for you.
What is krill oil?
Krill oil is derived from Antarctic krill, tiny crustaceans that live in some of the ocean’s coldest waters. Krill contain EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids with a unique chemical structure that provide significant health benefits to humans and animals alike.
Krill oil is typically red in color due to the presence of astaxanthin, a naturally occurring antioxidant that offers significant benefits for the body. Recent studies have shown it’s highly effective in promoting heart health and that it also contains antioxidants the protect the body from oxidative stress and prevent serious diseases.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements. In the most basic terms, it’s the fat or oil extracted from the tissues of oily fish including herring, tuna, anchovies and mackerel. In some cases, it’s also produced from the livers of certain fish—for example, cod liver oil. Unlike krill oil, which is red, fish oil is often yellow in color.
Around 30% of fish oil contains omega-3s, and the remaining 70% contains other fats. As an added bonus, you’ll usually find beneficial levels of vitamin A and D in most fish oils. Like krill oil, fish oil contains EPA and DHA. People who follow Western diets are often deficient in these key forms of omega-3, since they’ve been replaced by other fats like omega-6s. Getting this ratio back in balance by taking a fish oil supplement can prevent numerous diseases.
Key similarities between the two
Both krill oil and fish oil are reliable sources of omega-3s. They’re rich in EPA and DHA, the fatty acids that are most beneficial for the body. Most people take either krill oil or fish oil for their heart-healthy benefits.
Studies have shown that several key risk factors for heart disease are significantly reduced in people who supplement with either krill or fish oil. They can increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides and even reduce blood pressure.
Important differences to consider
While fish oil is well-known for its heart health benefits, several recent studies show that krill oil may protect the heart to an even greater extent. In one study, participants with high blood cholesterol showed a marked improvement in several heart disease risk factors from both products, fish oil and krill oil; however, participants taking krill oil also showed lower blood sugar, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Fish oil and krill oil also differ in the form of fatty acids they contain. While fish oil contains fatty acids in triglyceride form, they’re found in phospholipids in krill oil. As a result, the fatty acids in krill oil are more readily absorbed by the body, making it the more effective choice.
There’s also a price difference to consider if you’re looking to supplement with either krill or fish oil. Fish oil is the much cheaper and more accessible option. Krill can often cost as much as 10 times more than fish oil, but many people find the benefits and advantages are well worth the cost.
Is there a right answer?
Having trouble deciding whether to take a krill oil or fish oil supplement? Don’t waste time splitting hairs—they’re both great sources of omega-3 fatty acids and both provide significant health benefits. While early research has shown that krill oil is better absorbed by the body and may offer greater heart health benefits, fish oil is a less-expensive substitute that works well, too.
Interested in supplementing with krill oil or fish oil? You need to find out if it’s right for you first. Discuss these two supplements with your health care provider, and, upon receiving approval, choose a product that includes natural occurring vitamins and antioxidants to provide you with the most benefits in the smallest possible dosage.